Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Rules That Anti-Gay Workplace Discrimination Is Barred By Existing Laws
In a HUGE win coming blindly from left field. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that existing civil rights law bars sexual orientation-based employment discrimination.
The independent commission addressed the question of whether the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars anti-LGB discrimination in a complaint brought by a Florida-based air traffic control specialist against Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx.
The ruling — approved by a 3-2 vote of the five-person commission — applies to federal employees’ claims directly, but it also applies to the entire EEOC, which includes its offices across the nation that take and investigate claims of discrimination in private employment. While only the Supreme Court could issue a definitive ruling on the interpretation, EEOC decisions are given significant deference by federal courts.
Lambda Legal reacts:
“This landmark opinion from the EEOC confirms what we have long argued in our cases: discriminating against gay, lesbian and bisexual employees violates federal law. This ruling is likely to have enormous positive effects because EEOC interpretations of Title VII are highly persuasive to the courts—they tend to be predictive. Given the clarity and logic of this opinion, most courts are likely to stop simply referring to old, illogical rulings about Title VII coverage. A few may disagree, but most probably will be guided by the Commission’s straightforward approach,” said Greg Nevins, Counsel and Employment Fairness Strategist for Lambda Legal. Lambda Legal has been working for years on cases showing why Title VII, when properly understood, protects LGBT employees. This EEOC decision cites some of Lambda Legal’s recent work on this issue and it will be immensely significant in this continuing work.
While EEOC rulings are not binding in federal courts,they are persuasive. And expect this decision to end up before the Supreme Court in the future.
And so the next great LGBT battle begins.